Renee

Seven ways to plan ahead for your Christmas social media

Getting ready for Christmas? With the holiday season looming, it’s worth thinking about how you’ll handle your social media over the festive period.

Plan ahead

You need to be an organised person to plan ahead!  Staying active on social media will ensure your business doesn’t stagnate if you’re too full of mince pies and brandy butter to post anything. Remember that you can schedule stuff with Hootsuite or a similar “dashboard” in advance: create posts, upload photos, generally be prepared; this will keep your audience engaged during the festivities.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

1. Showcase seasonal products

If you’re selling anything Christmassy, you should have already started with a festive social media marketing campaign.  If you haven’t, now’s the time to get a move on…!! Promote your products or services across all relevant social media channels. Did you know that you can create a “Facebook Offer” if you’re running a specific promotion? It will send interested people a reminder to claim the discount (or whatever the offer is) before it ends. A carousel photo post is also a lovely way to show off a few items in one go.

2. Get into the festive spirit

This is a brilliant time to connect with your audience on a personal level.  Even the most serious business people tend to relax at this time of year.  Post a cheery seasonal message that will make people smile. If you’ve put up a Christmas tree or other festive season decorations, pop a pic on Facebook or Instagram! LinkedIn is the most professional platform but there’s nothing wrong with an engaging seasonal post on there too!

3. Show your appreciation.

Say thank you to your clients and followers for staying with you during the year. This can be a simple photo post or beautifully designed graphic – or just a few words straight from the heart!

4. Keep your business info up to date

Don’t forget to tell your clients when you’ll be open and closed over the holidays. This is also a good opportunity to update any other business information on your social media profiles that may be out of date. Don’t forget to include keywords in your profiles to help people find your business in searches.

5. Manage reactive responses

How quickly do you reply to tweets and messages on Facebook? You can set an auto-reply that responds immediately to direct Facebook messages, but you shouldn’t leave customers dangling for days. Keep an eye on your social media for exactly this reason – or post a clear message that you won’t be around. Of course, if your clients rely on you for an emergency service, for example if you’re a plumber, think about outsourcing your social media maintenance while you’re busy partying.

6. Get ready for the new year!

Think it’s too soon to worry about 2019? It’s definitely not. Prepare a mailshot now so that you don’t have to think about it over the holidays. Then you can get the year off to a highly motivated, stress-free start by being in touch with your clients, customers, potential clients and customers and anyone else who you want to remind about your business!

7. Bring in some extra help

If you’re too busy festooning the office with fairy lights to keep an eye on your social media, you might benefit from taking on a temp or a virtual assistant to help with social tasks. Don’t you find that in our dynamic digital age it’s really nice to receive something in the post? Even having someone to write your Christmas card envelopes is a help.

Here’s a reminder of easy ways to schedule your social media, and do feel free to let me know if you need some help.

Nine tips for scheduling your social media

If you’re running a business, you’ll know that there’s not always time to stop what you’re doing to tweet or post on LinkedIn.  That’s why there are various tools available to help schedule your social media, ensuring your continued presence whatever you’re doing and wherever you are!

Hootsuite is my preferred platform – I like the easy-to-navigate dashboard and its straightforward scheduling system.  Other popular social media platforms include Tweetdeck, Buffer, Hubspot and SproutSocial – all have their pros and cons, and varying price plans, so it boils down to whichever one you feel most comfortable working with.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

Whichever you choose to use, these basic tips will help you get going…

  • A good social media dashboard will allow you to post simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook (business pages and personal profiles), LinkedIn (including business pages), Google+ and Instagram. Hootsuite does.
    .
  • Think about your wording before you share everywhere – what’s snappy on Twitter may be unprofessional for LinkedIn or not explanatory enough for Facebook.
    .
  • Allow yourself time to plan your content. On Hootsuite you can schedule a couple of hundred messages over the next few weeks; make yourself a coffee and spend time at the start creating a CSV spreadsheet, then update it regularly – and relatively quickly – to provide fresh content.
    .
  • Plan your timing; if you’re trying to attract clients from abroad, make sure your posts are going out in their working hours rather than yours.
    .
  • Your social feeds should include a mix of images, text, soft sales content that links back to your website, video – if you produce any, and topical news that’s relevant to your business and will interest your audience. Keep the salesy stuff to a minimum – aim to inform and educate rather than constantly bombarding people with a hard sell.
    .
  • You can repeat tweets on different days and at varying times, but I advise against repeating identical content on LinkedIn or Facebook. You can, however, refresh and re-use old content. It’s a good idea to make it relevant to something that’s going on in the news now.
    .
  • Review your social activity to see which posts people like the most, and schedule more of those. Hootsuite’s analytics are very clear and user-friendly.
    .
  • Don’t rely on pre-planned, scheduled posts; deliver a good mix of current and industry news too.
    .
  • Even if you’re scheduling in advance, stay engaged regularly in order to reply to other people’s queries or comments, and thank them for retweeting. And remember that all platforms are social – even LinkedIn – so retweet, like, share and comment on other people’s news too!

I’m here if you have any queries or need help to plan your social media. Happy scheduling!

The Business Show at ExCel: 14/15 November

The largest business exhibition in Europe hits London in November with over 25,000 visitors. I’ll be there at the heart of it to explain about social media marketing and training – both on my stand and as a seminar speaker.

     

I’ve never exhibited at a huge business show before – at least, not for social media marketing and training. I’ve visited many exhibitions – mainly food-related ones, especially if chocolate is involved – and jewellery, but that was in a past life: pre-Internet.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing
In more recent times I’ve traipsed around business shows at ExCel and Olympia chatting to networking friends who are exhibiting, and I’ve met new contacts who’ve enticed me to leave my business card by offering some kind of delicious treat or the chance to win a prize.

I have joined clients on their stands at various trade shows to help with their marketing – that’s always great fun and highly rewarding.  And I’ve exhibited at smaller networking events, such as the YBC days in Spitalfields, where I also sit on a panel to answer questions about social media marketing.

But this is my first time alone at ExCel – the country’s largest auditorium!  So pop along to say hello – you’ll find me on my stand: YBC88, not far from the main entrance. I might well run a competition for people who stop by to say hello – all in compliance with GDPR, of course.

“The Biggest Business Event in Europe” is hailed as “Packed full of the very best speakers, features, innovations, education and opportunities in the business world; the event is dedicated to guiding startups, SMEs and large corporations on their business journey.”

You can register for free entry to the Business Show here.

Hope to see you there!

Tips for blending your business and personal Facebook profiles

Using social media in a personal context can still lead to business opportunities, if it’s handled sensibly. And nothing happens by chance, so we should always be prepared for someone to check us out online at any time.

ec00c4d7-822f-4ded-9ea4-3f14e9520601

As an example, I recently met Ade, a celebrity events planner who has masqueraded around the homes of some top A-listers. We connected on LinkedIn, naturally, then – as we have a number of shared social contacts – he added me as a Facebook friend.

Now, I don’t keep my personal Facebook account particularly professional; this is my forum for staying in touch with friends and family.  It’s littered with art gallery pics, trips to the theatre, a few cat photos (yes, I am that crazy lady) and the occasional chocolate delight. My business Facebook page is the place for you to get social media and communication skills tips. Still, although Facebook is my social space, I try to avoid posting nonsense. After all, you never know when an international radio show producer will find you.

mailshot header 450 x 150

Anyway, Ade invited me to join him at a recording of a London radio show for an Australian station, which is why I found myself in a quaint Bloomsbury theatre-cum-art gallery with an eclectic mix of British stage stars and recording artists – including Robbie Williams’ backing singer, the original female lead in the West End’s Phantom of the Opera and the legendary Freddie Mercury’s partner, Peter Straker.

But the masterpiece that blew me metaphorically to Melbourne and back was Aussie pianist Warren Wills, the radio show’s host, who belted out such an incredible Bowie compilation on the grand piano that goosebumps completed a Mexican wave all over my body. I didn’t tweet any of this at the time because I was glued there, mesmerised, but you can hear the performance on a podcast. Such nice people. Such enviable talent.

At the same event, the sister of one of my 80’s musical heroes approached me to help market her novel – a historical rhyming book that I haven’t yet read but will be downloading from Amazon before we meet next week to talk about a marketing campaign.

A second instance of a personal social media connection concerns another gallery and a different group of artists. My friend and colleague Martyn Royce took me to the launch of his summer exhibition at a contemporary gallery in Pall Mall. Momentarily standing alone to sip my champagne, a man started chatting to me, and – to cut an hour’s conversation into a snippet of a sentence – we ended up as Facebook friends.

Although he lives 150 miles away, social media showed that he was born in my town and – this was really quite unbelievable – he’d actually lived in my road and played with my neighbour as a child!  He’s now a leatherworker who does Viking re-enactments, demonstrating his craft at country shows up and down the UK; pretty cool.

A couple of days later I was at the V&A’s Frida Kahlo exhibition with my friend Caroline, coincidentally my neighbour’s sister – and she remembered him well. I’m putting them all in touch with each other as I write – multitasking at its best.

So, one week, two new Facebook friends, three galleries, a lot of fun and doors opening to new business opportunities.  Can’t be bad, eh?

Do remember though, your personal Facebook page shouldn’t be your business façade. Here are a few tips for managing it sensibly for business.

Top Tips

  • Only accept people as friends if you know them or can see a tangible connection.
  • If you want to keep business and social strictly separate, it’s absolutely fine – and not rude – to refer people to your business page and explain that you keep your personal profile for family and close friends.
  • Blend your personal and business pages when appropriate, share business updates and vice versa, but delineate the line between professional and fun.
  • Review your personal profile settings regularly to ensure only people you want to see your personal information can access it.
  • Avoid sharing negative personal updates. While some people use this tactic for engaging with friends, it’s not good practice if you’re hoping to be seen by current or future clients.
  • Don’t include ridiculous or drunken photos, swearing or anything else that falls into the realms of unprofessionalism.

Yell if you need any help with your Facebook presence!

Blogging: keywords that come back to bite your bum

I’ve waited a long time for TV stardom.  Not since my BBC appearance with Prince William have I received so much media attention…

I’ve run training courses on the art of blogging and, obviously, driven home the importance of incorporating keywords into website content so that businesses can be found easily for that particular thing. Websites benefit from blogging due to increased traffic, businesses benefit by establishing their expertise, and potential customers benefit by being offered the product or service they require in a smooth, seamless fashion.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

When I blogged about my Club 18-30s holiday I didn’t mark the tour operator’s name as a keyword, as I aim to be found for social media marketing, training, LinkedIn coaching and plain English business writing.  They’re my keywords. The 18-30s story was just a bit of fun.  But what GOES ONLINE STAYS ONLINE! When 18-30s decided to close its doors on 24-hour partying, cocktails and banging on the beach, the media did a quick online search for its own keywords – and bingo! Up I popped!!

So it was this blog, written a few years ago, that led to Radio 5 interviewing me – and, subsequently – to BBC’s The One Show requesting my presence at a filming session to be shown on a Friday night’s prime time TV.

Filming was a lot of fun! The crew met me at the allotted location with their cameras, lights and boom boom equipment, and presented me with a delicious cocktail. (Mocktail actually – well, it was only 9am and we’re not in Ibiza in 1984 now.) I was astounded by the amount of time it takes to put together a one-minute snippet of film. Three hours later I was recounting my story for the umpteenth time and we were all firm friends.

So, three questions….

  1. Are you using your keywords to their best advantage?
  2. Can you create interesting stories that may not be directly about your business but link back to it in some way, giving a new audience the opportunity to find you?
  3. Do you stay mindful that what you post on social media stays there for a very long time?

If you’ve answered no to any of these, I’ll be happy to give you some tips to set you on the right path – the path to social media marketing success, I mean, not to wild teenage holidays!

Did Club 18-30 collapse due to ego-tourism – a social media trend?

You may have heard me interviewed this morning on BBC Radio 5 Live about the demise of Club 18-30 Holidays. The researcher that called asked about my opinion from a social media perspective, but the on-air discussion was more about our photo in the funny advertising brochure.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

The BBC found me via this four-year-old blog: Being quizzical, a specialist subject and Club 18-30 – not for the faint-hearted. I don’t remember the quiz mentioned in the blog but I certainly remember all the salient points of the 1984 trip to Ibiza!

Anna Foster, the morning show’s presenter, asked about the story leading up to my friend Gill and I  being photographed for the 18-30 brochure. She twice mentioned my social media business but, as the focus was on holiday memories, we didn’t get a chance to discuss my professional views live on air.

Club 18-30 is ending after a 50-year run, due to – according to its owner Thomas Cook – the preference for ‘ego-tourism,’ a term I hadn’t even heard of before.  Of course people want to look good on social media, but it’s not a mirror into people’s lives; it’s a reflection of what they want others to see.  Can the company really claim that people choose their holidays based on the fact they want other people to see what a fabulous place they’re in? Isn’t it more a case of simply wanting to be in that wonderful place precisely because it’s lovely and that’s where you want to be?

Naturally, I looked at Club 18-30’s social media before I chatted with the radio team. The business has a good following – 150,000 Facebook followers, yet the level of engagement is incredibly poor with hardly anyone liking posts or sharing the content. The brand is failing to engage with its target market, and this must surely be a larger contributing factor in its downfall than ego-tourism.

Anyway, my thanks for BBC5 for promoting me even though the talk show veered towards memories rather than business, and apologies to BBC4 who also called, but the timings clashed. How nice to be in demand by the national media – I thought my paparazzi days were over since my televised meeting with Prince William – but that’s another story!

What is legitimate interest? A plain English guide to this confusing topic

Are you GDPR’d out yet?

Last month, I explained my interpretation of ‘consent’ for GDPR.  The other reason many people will rely on for keeping in touch with their mailing list is “legitimate interest.”

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

If you’re doing business with someone, you have a contract or you’re negotiating for one, legitimate interest definitely applies.  Consensus among the people I network with is that, if you have built your list from people you’ve met who know what you do and can reasonably expect to receive email about your business, this is a valid reason to stay in touch and can be classed as a legitimate interest. Do you agree?

Again, I recommend Suzanne Dibble’s super video collection for anyone who is uncertain about any aspect of GDPR, and some of the following information is taken from her marketing video. She suggests that, unless any e-privacy laws, ethics or industry standards are broken, in most cases direct marketing can be classed as a legitimate interest.  (There are some caveats.)

The key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is the way you use people’s data ‘proportionate, with minimal privacy impact and people wouldn’t be surprised to receive it from you?
  • Could people reasonably expect to receive this information from you?
  • Have you worked through the “Three stage test?” This includes assessing the purpose for emailing them, ensuring it’s necessary for the purpose, and filling in a ‘balancing form’ to show whether the legitimate interest is overridden by the person’s rights or freedom. Also, did you keep a record of your ‘legitimate interest outcome’?
  • Can they opt out of receiving your emails? (If you use Mailchimp, as I do, there’s always been an unsubscribe button.)
  • Is your privacy policy lovely and clear?
  • Are people likely to object to receiving your email? And further – are they likely to object if you explained your reasoning to them? If the answer’s yes, you can’t count on legitimate interest.
  • Is whatever you’re sending likely to cause them harm? (The example Suzanne Dibble uses is people in debt receiving regular targeted emails from loan sharks or gambling websites, which can have a “significant negative effect.” If the answer’s yes, you can’t do it.)

Please note that, apparently, the ICO says that you shouldn’t rely on legitimate interest just because it seems easier to apply than consent.

That’s all I’m covering on GDPR now – and hopefully forever! Please remember that this is my own interpretation of legitimate interest; it doesn’t mean I’m correct, but I’m offering it as food for thought – or rather, fodder for further research if you think it will work for you.

So how are you deciding which legal basis to use in future? Will it be legitimate interest, consent or one of the other options?

Ten tips for using Social Media responsibly for your business

Of course, it goes without saying that social media is an excellent way to market your business. Many owners of small businesses (including me!) mix their professional and personal social media. It’s worth keeping in mind that one person’s lively banter could be seen as offensive to someone else. So, here are ten tips to keep you and your business out of trouble…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

  1. Social media can blur the boundary between your public and professional lives; stay aware of your personal image and how it may impact on your professional standing.
    .
  2. Anything you post can become a permanent record, there forever to be referred to, shared and re-shared beyond your control. Remember that there’s no such thing as a safe throwaway comment on social media.
    .
  3. Compromising photos may reflect badly on your business, even if you didn’t take or post the photo. Keep an eye on who’s posting what if you’re involved in any shenanigans!
    .
  4. Don’t forget that comments made in a personal capacity can bounce back to bite you, your business and, possibly, your whole industry.
    .
  5. Know how to adjust your privacy settings to keep personal stuff personal.
    .
  6. Think about your ethical and legal duty to protect other people’s confidentiality.
    .
  7. Beware of posting informal, personal or derogatory comments about anyone on your professional social media. Aside from it being rude, you don’t want to risk opening yourself to defamation and libel laws if your words are construed as unlawful. (Defamation law can apply to any comments posted on the web made in either a personal or professional capacity.)
    .
  8. If you come across comments made by others on social media that you find irritating, offensive or just plain wrong, think carefully before responding. Commenting will increase the visibility of the original comment and if other people jump onboard, the whole conversation can grow exponentially.
    .
  9. Without facial expressions or body language, it can be easy for people to misconstrue the meaning of your words in written social media. You and I might think something’s funny, but someone else could view it as sarcasm or rudeness.
    .
  10. Aim to be consistent across social media. If you present yourself very differently on LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s possible that people might question your business integrity.
    .

Social media has always been an overwhelming minefield, but with the GDPR data protection laws all around it’s better to be just a touch more vigilant than before. Feel free to drop me an email if you need help with anything social media-related.

Would you like to join me for a glass of wine? (And a free LinkedIn review!)

If you’re free on Thursday, 1st March, please join me at the Art Pavilion in east London for the private viewing of “In a country far, far away.”

There will be some awesome works of art, live music, wine and dance displays – so it will be wonderful if you can come along!

This exhibition has been inspired by tales from countries in war and crisis. My exhibit is a poem dedicated to the first recorded poet – a remarkable woman who lived over 4,500 years ago in the area now known as southern Iraq. Her work has survived almost five millennia, yet I’d never even heard of her until recently! Just think… her message spread across the globe and made a lasting impact without even a whisper of wifi…

While I won’t be giving out social media tips on the night (apart from reminding people to tweet, share and Instagram their favourite pieces of artwork, of course), I will be happy to follow up with a complimentary LinkedIn review for anyone who comes along as a result of reading this blog!

Here are the details, and I really hope you can make it!

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn – or any social media – but you can’t make it on March 1st, please feel free to ask.

Looking forward to – hopefully – seeing you there!

How to avoid being annoying on LinkedIn

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketingA few weeks ago I received an invitation to connect with another social media consultant. I’m usually happy to link up online with other people in my field as it’s great to be able to share ideas and – occasionally – concerns, and have meaningful discussions about the digital media marketing world. Also, there’s always the chance of cross-referrals if one person is too busy to take on new clients, so it’s good to have other people to recommend.

Some of the clients I coach don’t like to connect within their own industry sphere – and that’s fine.  Although I always point out that if it’s a reluctance to connect for fear of the competition poaching their clients, it might be worth reassessing their current client relationship strategy.  Within most industries there’s enough work to go around, and a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.

So I accepted the LinkedIn invitation and started a discussion. This person specialises in handling the social media for clients in only one industry sector – we’ll pretend it’s liquorice manufacturers. (It’s not really, but I don’t like liquorice.)

Only, later that day, a problem sprang up.  I received an email via LinkedIn from this person – trying to sell me social media services! And not only that – it rambled on and on about liquorice. My new LinkedIn connection started spamming me within 12 hours of discussing the beneficial crossovers and differences of our respective businesses!

The following day… guess what?! Another communication – this time a group message. When I received the third message in two days I emailed to remind him that I am not his target client and asked that he please stop emailing me. No reply.

On receiving the fourth email, I – very nicely – asked if his strategy when working with clients was to bombard their contacts in the hope that they may turn into future customers… Again, no reply. For the first time ever, I disconnected from someone on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a highly professional social network and, aside from its incredible power in the business world, there is an etiquette attached.  So here are a few tips to keep out of people’s annoyance zone:

  1. Personalise your connection requests: Remind people how they know you or explain why you’d like to connect if you’ve never actually met.
  2. Respond promptly: If you receive a message, reply quickly. Set your notifications so that messages filter through to your email box; that way you won’t miss anything important.
  3. Send a welcome message: If someone adds you (and you accept them), drop them a note to thank them for connecting. It’s also a good opportunity to find out why they connected and what you may be able to do to help each other.
  4. Don’t send spam or irrelevant messages: Be mindful that not all your connections are potential clients – your target group probably accounts for only a small percentage of people. Just like networking off-line, the people you know on LinkedIn will be a complete mix – and not all need your services or products.
  5. Don’t add LinkedIn connections to your email list: With GDPR approaching, that’s not an acceptable way to build an email list – it was never ethical and, from May, it will be illegal.
  6. Never ask people to recommend or endorse you if they haven’t experienced your work. And even if they have, only ask for a recommendation if you know they were happy with you. Ideally, do this at the time of the job so it’s fresh in their minds.

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn, feel free to ask. I’ll happily answer questions in the comments – or write a future blog to cover wider topics.

Alternatively, if you’d like to freshen up your profile or spend some time together on a 1-2-1 basis, click here and we can make a date!